We were lucky enough to spend a couple of days in Budapest, Matt conference attending, me, babysitting. One afternoon, my babysitting charge and I took a trip to the Children’s Railway, a short rail track through the Buda hills that was built during Budapest’s soviet era and partially operated by kids in their early teens. They sell and collect tickets, and help with signalling, etc. The uniform for those working was a kicky thunderbirds type number, little pointed hat and all.
The railway was a little outside of the city centre with a bit of Internet research required to establish how we could get there/back. The upshot of which being that it felt like we were the only tourists on our train. That was being pulled by a steam engine (an older engine, that only comes out on occasion) that was really quite loud, so we were standing at the very back of the end carriage, separate from the seated area.
So, standing out the back next to us was a man looking after a folded up pram, with the rest of his family sitting in the carriage. He had spoken a few words to me (about having space to hold onto the handrail, just the basics), so I knew he could speak English, and he was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘up the mountain and down the beer, Gisborne New Zealand. So, at what point do we comment on these things and make a country both the reason for, and the topic of, a conversation? Because New Zealand is on the other side of the earth from here, whenever I come across any reference I get a little excited.* But that doesn’t mean other people do, or that a shared country gives you anything to talk about or anything else in common.
Looking back on it now, probably I should have commented on the mutual NZness of me and his t-shirt. Though I had just been reading the section of One Day where an older kiwi couple are the subject of mockery for only being capable of conversation about the quality of life and the scenery. I mean, from this far away what else is there to say? (That, and I can be more than a little shy around new people, lets be honest.)
*though in Italy we have seen a few people wearing tshirts with Auckland New Zealand on them. Pretty sure this is just a brand, so the equivalent of the USA hoodie I wore in college. So much style.